Every media outlet is giving a voice to a plethora of self appointed political pundits, common-sense-loathing activists, and confused citizens of the earth, all trying to make sense of the International Criminal Court’s issuance of a warrant for the arrest of Omar Al-Bashir. However, the one voice that seems to have been muffled by the pandemonium surrounding the issue is that of the Sudanese citizen. I ask: what about me Luis Ocampo? What about the millions of Sudanese citizens that have clearly demonstrated their opposition to your request to arrest our president? Is it justice when an outsider intervenes in my country’s affairs? Whatever happened to democracy? I might just agree with presidential adviser Mustafa Osman Ismail who described the move as ‘neo-colonization.’
The ICC has shown its lackadaisical disregard for concerns of erosion of North Sudanese unity with the semi-autonomous South, and completely ignored the pan-Arab solidarity with the Sudanese President to protect the sovereignty of Sudan-all in the name of elusive justice.
The human in me is cheering for even the mere symbolic attainment of justice for the thousands of lives that perished as a result of the Darfur conflict. The president should be held responsible for inhumane actions committed by him, his army, and/or the paramilitary activities conducted under his watch. I would be hard-pressed to find a person who believes Omar Al-Bashir is an entirely innocent man. He is not innocent, but what is he guilty of? Well apparently everything but genocide– the very label that fueled the debate on whether or not to indict the Sudanese president.
On the other hand, the pragmatist in me is questioning the effectiveness of the ICC’s decision, and the extent of ‘justice’ it will provide for the victims of the Darfur conflict. It could be too early for the man on the street to speculate, but I sincerely hope that Luis Ocampo and the ICC have a follow-up plan to assuage the commotion caused by the indictment of a sitting head of state. Does the ICC consider this the end result, or a starting point in the quest of peace and justice in Sudan? This question remains unanswered.
I regret that the inappropriately overzealous Luis Ocampo and the ICC exploited the conflict in Darfur to flex their muscles and show that the newly formed court is a judicial institution with teeth. More than two hundred thousand people have been killed– I regret that the ICC chose to react after the fact. Most of all, I regret that the ICC has deprived Sudanese citizens of the chance to determine the fate of their own country’s president through democratic means.
Regardless of Omar Hassan Al-Bashir’s innocence or culpability, as a concerned Sudanese citizen I am worried that Sudan might be left without a leader with enough political reach or gravitas to keep the nation in one piece–literally.